The CFO'S Perspective

When to Use a ‘Decision Tree’ for Business Planning

For those not familiar with the term, a decision tree is a flow chart that works through all possible response options in a scenario to analyze resulting outcomes. Basically, it is a visual version of an “if this then that” statement across all possible alternatives.

The “branches” off each decision alternative that result use data analysis to forecast the most likely outcome of each decision. When one decision leads to another decision that must be made, that branch splits to continue extrapolating the effects of each subsequent decision. The result is a tree-like diagram (hence the name) that is easy to understand and interpret.

Decision trees can be more conceptual in nature or have numbers to back up decision scenarios, as is the case of pricing changes affecting revenue figures. For decision trees with complicated calculations, a software program can assign values and probabilities to streamline decision-making. A decision tree is a critical part of strategic planning because it allows decisionmakers to analyze the effects of a significant change throughout different areas of the business.

Topics: Data Analysis Planning Analysis Leadership Growth Forecasting Risk Management Change Management Strategy

Should You Use an Executive Search Firm to Hire a CFO?

Like any other c-suite hiring process, hiring a CFO can be a daunting process at any organization. Whether the role is a newly opened position at a burgeoning startup, or a replacement for a long-standing CFO that is looking to retire, bringing in a CFO is a complex endeavor.

For companies that are accustomed to using recruiting services, the idea of using an executive placement agency to hire a key leadership role is a logical extension. However, businesses that typically handle hiring in-house may not see the benefit to using an executive search firm to hire a CFO. Some business owners may not even know that there are niche executive search agencies that specialize in finance roles.

However, using an executive search firm that focuses specifically on hiring key finance positions offers numerous benefits, which typically include:

Topics: CFO HR Leadership Change Management Interim CFO Transition

How CFOs Plan and Prepare for Worst-Case Scenarios

The current economic climate, combined with the fact that September is National Preparedness Month, has many of us thinking about how we can prepare for possible threats and business disruptions. This kind of strategic planning allows a business to approach a worst-case scenario with a growth mindset instead of fear – increasing the likelihood that your business will come out of a crisis stronger for having gone through it.

During a worst-case scenario, leadership must decide whether the organization will make the necessary adjustments needed to continue with business as usual or change how the company will operate. And while the conversation will undoubtedly include operational and capacity considerations, it is primarily a discussion about financial capabilities.

Topics: CFO Planning Analysis Cash Flow Risk Management CFO Responsibilities Change Management Strategy

Maintaining Business Controls in a Remote Work Environment

We are now seven months into the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is clear we are far from returning to “normal”; however, that may be defined. What is clear is the pandemic pushed the concept of work-from-home (WFH) from being a motivational tool and employee benefit to a way of life. Work-from-home will undoubtedly remain an essential part of company operations well after the pandemic is under control. REI, Zillow, Twitter, Square, and other companies announced a plan to work remotely indefinitely.

Moving to a remote work environment in March with little or no notice was extraordinarily disruptive and often haphazard at best. We did what we needed to operate in the so-called “new normal.” By now, most of us have settled into a regular work cadence and adapted to working apart from the rest of our teams.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one-third of the U.S. workforce and half of all “information workers” can work from home. Though the number of people working partially or fully remote has been on the rise for years now, the COVID-19 pandemic may have pressed the fast-forward button on this trend.

With millions of people taking part in this work-from-home experiment, now is the perfect time for companies to take a fresh look at their internal control environments, especially as they relate to their WFH team members. What once worked with everyone in the same place may not be effective with a distributed workforce.

A critical self-examination of your company’s internal control environment begins with an assessment of the segregation of duties.

Topics: Leadership Risk Management Change Management Business Controls

Re-opening: A CFOs Perspective on What Businesses Should Focus on in the Near Term

What now? One thing is certain, most businesses have been impacted and their 2021 results will differ significantly from previous budgets and forecasts.

Now is the time for serious planning and strategizing. Business owners and CEOs should be considering what reopening looks like in all markets in which they operate. Will your business return to normal operations or will there be significant changes needed? Involve your key leadership team and advisors in these planning sessions.

Topics: Planning Leadership Change Management

Certainty in Uncertain Times

In uncertain times businesses need continued access to experienced bookkeepers and accountants to keep cash flowing. Whether the need is part-time, interim, or project-based, a third-party financial professional can offer the information needed to make strategic business decisions. This need does not change when people are working remotely. In fact, with so many businesses temporarily pausing operations, the need for bookkeepers and accountants is likely greater than ever before.

While the future may be uncertain, there is one immutable certainty – businesses still have access to the reputable, qualified bookkeepers and accountants that they need to keep their organizations afloat. These kinds of key personnel aren’t going anywhere and are available to help businesses navigate today’s unique challenges.

Topics: Finance Accounting Hiring Change Management Transition COVID-19

2020 Pandemic Crisis – What to Focus on Right Now

This is an uncertain time for business owners.

Difficult questions like deciding whether to pause operations, continue a lease, apply for a loan, or lay off employees, are on the minds of business owners across the country. Many are confused about their tax obligations in the face of new legislation. Most are worried about maintaining proper security and managing communications effectively with a larger percentage of their employees working remotely. Some are concerned about how they will repair the brand damage that is occurring as a result of not being able to fulfill their brand promise to their customers.

Frequently shifting state and local regulations have left the waters murky for many businesses, especially in highly seasonal industries. Some business owners may be wrestling with the question of whether their businesses will be able to reopen at all after the shelter in place orders and social distancing recommendations have been lifted.

Topics: Change Management Transition Strategy COVID-19

A CEO Guide to Change Management for Financial Processes (and Financial Teams)

Change comes more from managing the journey than from announcing the destination.”  -  William Bridges

Change can be hard to navigate under the best of circumstances. When things aren't right within the financial arena, it can unknowingly create a delicate situation. CEOs should tread lightly, and yet, must still be effective leaders.

The inclination of many CEOs is to assume that because financial teams tend to be more analytical than, for instance, a marketing team, they can make changes without understanding the potential ramifications. This may not be the case. Here are some best practices for navigating change in your financial waters.

Topics: Leadership Financial Process Change Management